Literary Retrospectives - Louisville Conference (Feb. 26-28, 2015)

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International Lawrence Durrell Society
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The Louisville Conference on Literature and Culture Since 1900
Louisville, KY | 26-28 February 2015

Nearly fifty years after publishing his first novel, Lawrence Durrell offers the following retrospective detailing the shifting nature of twentieth-century literature and commenting on the shifts in his own writing:

"I knew that I was part of a splendid tradition and I hoped to do as well as my forerunners. But as I came to read them I realised just how stable their Victorian world had been and how unstable mine had become, how precarious and unsettling the new metaphysics was."
—"From the Elephant's Back" (1981)

Durrell's urge to look back is not unusual. Many writers have offered the same kind of commentary—whether in looking back upon one's own writing, as Salman Rushdie does in 1982 with the essay "Imaginary Homelands"; in characterizing earlier writers, as Virginia Woolf does in 1923 with her essay "Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Brown"; or in providing some combination of the two, as Doris Lessing does in her 2007 Nobel lecture.

Remembering Durrell's fondness for looking back in order to look forward, the International Lawrence Durrell Society is calling for papers addressing the theme of Literary Retrospectives for a society-sponsored session of the 2015 Louisville Conference. Presenters may write on Durrell and his milieu, but papers are not limited to these considerations. Possible topics include the following:

  • fictionalized retrospection, as in Djuna Barnes' Nightwood (1936) or Alan Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child (2011)
  • retrospection in essay form, as in George Orwell's "Why I Write" (1946) and James Kelman's "Elitism and English Literature, Speaking as a Writer" (2000)
  • retrospection offering historical analysis, as in Brecht's Mother Courage (1941)
  • comparative retrospection among earlier and later works in an author's oeuvre
  • variations on the theme, including, for example, Rebecca West's contemporaneous retrospection-through-introspection in The Strange Necessity (1928)

Please send a 250-word abstract to James Clawson (, International Lawrence Durrell Society, by Oct. 1, 2014. Final presentations should be limited to 20 minutes in length.